Tuesday, October 21, 2014
The annual fall conference of the Center for Ethics and Culture at Notre Dame is a jewel in the crown of Catholic higher education. This year's conference topic, inspired by Pope Francis, is "Your Light Will Rise in the Darkness: Responding to the Cry of the Poor." Plenary addresses will be given by Nobel Laureate James Heckman (Chicago), Cardinal Gerhard Müller (Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), Alasdair MacIntyre (Notre Dame), and John Finnis (Notre Dame and Oxford). A concluding colloquy on whether Catholic social teaching and American capitalism are compatible will include Patrick Deneen, Hadley Arkes, James Mumford, and John Tomasi. A detailed schedule is available here.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
One of the recurring questions here at MOJ and across the Catholic blogosphere is whether and to what extent Catholicism and American liberal democracy can happily co-exist ("the viability of the John Courtney Murray project" in shorthand). This essay at National Affairs by Peter Augustine Lawler and Richard Reinsch is a rich (and very well-written) reflection on that question by way of an engagement with the thought of Orestes Brownson, the still-unduly-neglected nineteenth century American Catholic thinker. As Lawler and Reinsch note at the outset of the piece:
Some of our most familiar political and intellectual categories, adapted to suit 20th-century debates, now cause us to fall into a simpleminded individualism that we cannot really believe. Too many conservatives, for instance, persist in the tired distinction between individual freedom and collectivism. That unrealistic bifurcation helped discredit the communist or fascist reduction of the particular person to nothing but an expendable cog in a machine, plugging away in pursuit of some glorious paradise to come at the end of History. But today that distinction too often ends up placing in the same repulsive category any understanding of the person as a relational part of a larger whole — of a country, family, church, or even nature. It thus causes conservatives to dismiss what students of humanity from Aristotle to today's evolutionary psychologists know to be true: that we social animals are "hardwired" by instinct to find meaning in serving personal causes greater than ourselves, and that reconciling freedom with personal significance is only possible in a relational context that is less about rights than about duties.
Read the whole thing to see how Lawler and Reinsch think Brownson helps us move past such individualism, but here is a bit from a later part of the essay:
The American, constitutional mean between abstract universalism and tribal secessionism, according to Brownson, is a limited political unity of citizens who know they are also more than and less than citizens. All of us equally are shaped by natural, personal imperatives having to do with flourishing as material, political, and spiritual beings. When we forget any of the three, we fall into trouble. The material being is concerned with the personal subsistence of himself and his family. The political being is concerned with the common good shared by citizens in a "territorial democracy" in a particular part of the world. The spiritual being is concerned with discovering his relational duties to his loving personal Creator and sharing that personal news with his fellow creatures through the church.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
For those in the Philadelphia area or nearby, Villanova Law will be hosting a symposium on Friday, October 17 at 1:30pm in Law School Room 101 on the US Supreme Court’s decision last term in McCullen v. Coakley, unanimously striking down on First Amendment grounds a Massachusetts abortion clinic buffer zone statute. The lead plaintiff in the case, Eleanor McCullen, will participate and will be in attendance along with her husband, Joseph T. McCullen, Jr., a Villanova alumnus and benefactor. Also participating will be the attorney who represented Mrs. McCullen before the Supreme Court. Confirmed participants include:
Gregory P. Magarian
Professor of Law, Washington University School of Law
Professor Gregory Magarian is an expert in free speech, the law of politics, and law and religion. Before joining the law faculty at Washington University, he was on the faculty of Villanova University School of Law from 1999 to 2008. He has written about a variety of topics in constitutional law, including free speech theory and doctrine, media regulation, regulation of political parties, the relationship between church and state, and substantive due process. As part of an ABA project, he led a team of faculty examining the work of Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan during the nomination process. Before becoming a law professor, he clerked for US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, as well as for Judge Louis Oberdorfer of the US District Court for the District of Columbia. Professor Magarian also practiced law for five years with the Washington, DC firm of Jenner & Block. He earned his BA from Yale University and his JD and MPP from the University of Michigan.
Mark L. Rienzi
Counsel for Eleanor McCullen, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and Associate Professor of Law, The Catholic University of America
Professor Mark Rienzi's litigation and research interests focus on the First and Fourteenth Amendments, with an emphasis on free speech and the free exercise of religion. As Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (a non-profit, non-partisan religious liberties law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious faiths), Professor Rienzi is counsel in several challenges to the HHS Mandate. Prior to joining CUA, Professor Rienzi served as counsel in the Supreme Court and Appellate Practice Group at Wilmer Hale LLP in Washington, DC. Prior to joining Wilmer Hale, he served as law clerk to the Hon. Stephen F. Williams, senior circuit judge for the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. He earned his JD from Harvard Law School and BA from Princeton University.
Chief Counsel and Policy Director, Judicial Crisis Network
As chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, Carrie Severino has testified before Congress on assorted constitutional issues and briefed Senators on judicial nominations. Mrs. Severino has been extensively quoted in the media and regularly appeared on television, including MSNBC, FOX, CNN, C-SPAN and ABC’s This Week. She has written and spoken on a wide range of judicial issues, particularly the constitutional limits on government, the federal nomination process, and state judicial selection. Mrs. Severino regularly files briefs in high-profile Supreme Court cases. In the 2013 term those cases included Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, McCullen v. Coakley, and Schuette v. BAMN. Until March 2010, Mrs. Severino was an Olin/Searle Fellow and a Dean's Visiting Scholar at Georgetown University Law Center. She was previously a law clerk to US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and to Judge David B. Sentelle of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. She received a BS from Duke University, an MA in Linguistics from Michigan State University, and a JD from Harvard Law School.
Kevin C. Walsh
Associate Professor of Law, University of Richmond School of Law
Professor Kevin Walsh teaches and writes in the areas of federal jurisdiction and constitutional law. His scholarship focuses on doctrines that define the scope of federal judicial power, and has appeared in the Stanford Law Review, New York University Law Review, and Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly. Prior to joining the Richmond Law faculty in 2009, Professor Walsh was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Villanova University School of Law. He earned his AB from Dartmouth College, his MA in Theology from the University of Notre Dame, and his JD from Harvard Law School. He clerked for Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court of the United States and for Judge Paul V. Niemeyer of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Today is the Memorial of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897), a figure from the Catholic tradition all too easy to sentimentalize about and thereby fail to appreciate her remarkable achievement. At the end of the nineteenth century amid a secularizing culture in Europe, a French girl from a small town in Normandy led a short, tragic, and holy life in a cloistered convent, leaving behind a spiritual classic that Charles Taylor notes in A Secular Age illustrates the possibility of religious faith amid moden disbelief (p. 765 and p. 850, n. 64). A century later, she was declared a doctor of the Church (one of only four women), and, as Dorothy Day wrote in 1949, "on the frail battleground of her flesh was fought the wars of today." For more on Thérèse and what she means for our world and for all of us in our various vocations, see this from the Houston Catholic Worker (on Dorothy Day's devotion to Thérèse), this from Rusty Reno, and this from Philip Zaleski.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
At the Libertas Project workshop on economic freedom this past summer, one of our sessions took up the issues posed by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler's Nudge, which is generating a cottage industry of commentary around issues of freedom, autonomy, and government paternalism. This interesting review at the NY Review of Books by Jeremy Waldron of two (!) new books by Sunstein nicely frames the debate.
Waldron points out in the review the danger in Sunstein's claim that "we should design policies that help the least sophisticated people in society while imposing the smallest possible costs on the most sophisticated" of what Bernard Williams memorably called "Government House Utilitarianism":
There are deeper questions, too, than these issues of trust and competence. As befits someone who was “regulation czar” in the Obama White House, Sunstein’s point of view is a rather lofty one and at times it has an uncomfortable affinity with what Bernard Williams once called “Government House utilitarianism." Government House utilitarianism was a moral philosophy that envisaged an elite who knew the moral truth and could put out simple rules for the natives (or ordinary people) to use, even though in the commissioner’s bungalow it was known that the use of these rules would not always be justified. We (the governors) know that lying, for example, is sometimes justified, but we don’t want to let on to the natives, who may not have the wit to figure out when this is so; we don’t trust them to make the calculations that we make about when the ordinary rules should not be followed. Williams saw the element of insult in this sort of approach to morality, and I think it is discernable in Sunstein’s nudging as well.
Here's an interesting question for Catholic legal theory: Does the Catholic tradition's robust commitment to the common good sit comfortably with Sunsteinian nudging of citizens by the state (one might even think that, pace Sunstein, nudging should include not merely health, safety, and economic choices but also moral virtue)? And how much does the answer to that question turn on accepting something like Sunstein's welfare maximization account, which is hardly what the tradition means by the common good? But if the political common good is merely instrumental to other human goods, one has reservations about the competence of the state in such matters, or one is concerned about the autonomy of our choices (a libertarian view one doesn't readily encounter in Catholic social thought), then perhaps the critics of nudging are right to worry about it. (See Waldron's comments about how Sunstein's equation of autonomy with welfare is "remarkably tone-deaf to concerns about autonomy").
Monday, September 22, 2014
With the appointment of Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane to be Archbishop of Chicago, products of Omaha, Nebraska are now leaders of two of the most important institutions of American Catholicism: the Archdiocese of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame (Father John Jenkins, CSC). Also, former Bishops of Rapid City, South Dakota will now be Archbishops of two of the six largest dioceses in the United States (in addition to Archbishop-elect Cupich in Chicago, my own Archbishop, Charles Chaput, OFM Cap. of Philadelphia, was formerly Bishop of Rapid City).
The prominence of Omaha and Rapid City may be a geographic coincidence, but there might also be a larger point here about the rise of Midwestern Catholicism in the American Church.
Consider that almost all of the ordinaries of the redoubts of the East Coast Catholic Church are Midwesterners: Boston (Cardinal O’Malley is from Lakewood, Ohio and Pittsburgh), New York (Cardinal Dolan is from St. Louis), Philadelphia (Archbishop Chaput is from Concordia, Kansas), and Washington (Cardinal Wuerl is from Pittsburgh). (Pittsburgh is a close call, but I say the Midwest begins when you pass the Alleghany Mountain Tunnel on the Pennsylvania Turnpike—and surely Pittsburgh historically has been more like Cleveland or Detroit than it’s been like New York or Philadelphia.) Only Archbishop Lori of Baltimore—a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington originally from Kentucky—is from an East Coast diocese. None of the American cardinals serving now as archbishop of a diocese is native to the East Coast: besides O’Malley, Dolan, and Wuerl, Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston is from Pittsburgh (via Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa). And Catholic university presidents at Notre Dame (Nebraska, as mentioned), Boston College (Father William Leahy, SJ is from Iowa), and Villanova (Father Peter Donohue, OSA is from Michigan) are from the Midwest.
The larger story, if there is one, may be that those formed by Midwestern Catholicism—less clerical, less dependent on the large institutions that have marked East Coast Catholicism—are suited to address the challenges of the 21st century American Church. Regardless, congratulations to Bishop Cupich and best wishes in retirement to Cardinal Francis George, OMI (originally from...Chicago).
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Those of us from an Irish Catholic background are inevitably reserved, to say the least, about British Unionism. But as Rick pointed out last week, the prospect of Scotland voting tomorrow to secede from the United Kingdom seems extraordinarily foolish and may, as argued here by Walter Russell Mead, usher in an era of wider political instability that we will all soon regret (and some of the damage may already be done). Two offhand thoughts on this eve of the referendum:
First, rather than a modern domesticated version of Robert the Bruce, the Scottish nationalist movement today seems more a Caledonian variant of Peronism—socially progressive, yes, but also a brew of authoritarianism, economic populism, and class resentment (see Tom Gallagher's piece earlier this summer). Many voting for Scottish independence tomorrow have hopes of creating a Scandinavian welfare state utopia shorn of retrograde English capitalism, but they are more likely to get economic stagnation, debt crises, currency instability, and political turmoil. And as John Haldane wrote here, none of this will be good for the Catholic Church or for religious liberty.
Second and as a matter of political and legal theory, there is something odd about the bare majoritarianism at work in tomorrow’s vote. 50% plus one of Scottish citizens age 16 and older (well, those who live in Scotland—Scots living in other parts of the UK can’t vote in the referendum) can decide to form an independent country and abrogate the 1707 Act of Union with England—and that result binds 50% minus one of Scots. Jeremy Waldron elegantly argues in The Dignity of Legislation (Cambridge UP, 1999) against the arbitrariness of majoritarianism and the legitimacy of Locke's "physics of consent" by majority rule. Fair enough as to normal politics—popular voting for candidates or legislative majorities. Ultimate questions of sovereignty, though, seem to me to require an account of authority and a background political culture that majoritarianism alone can’t provide--a problem rarely (and fortunately so) posed in the modern state. As Tyler Cowen wrote this morning, crudely posing certain questions and asking the people to resolve them (here by bare majority rule) threatens any political order, and independence "might just be a question which should not be asked in such a blatant form." And as he wrote presciently some months ago, "If a significant segment of the British partnership wishes to leave, and for no really good practical reason, it is a sign that something is deeply wrong with contemporary politics and with our standards for loyalties.”
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Like so many others, I was devastated to hear the news this afternoon that Dan Markel had suddenly and tragically died. The notice from PrawfsBlawg (which he created) is here. Dan and I were summer associates together in 2001 in the Washington office of O'Melveny & Myers and have been friends ever since. He was a gifted scholar and teacher, of course, but more importantly he was a loyal friend who brought a community together wherever he went. I treasure the time we had together last summer hiking in Colorado and the gatherings at AALS and elsewhere of Dan's many friends. I grieve most for Dan's two little boys and pray for their consolation, somehow. Requiescat in pace.
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Susan is correct, of course, that several states (26 by statute and two by administrative ruling according to this from the NCSL; see also this summary from the Guttmacher Institute) require that employers include contraception in prescription drug benefit plans. While some include broad religious exemptions (eg, Texas), others provide no exemption at all (eg, Iowa) or, as in California and NY, an exemption limited in the same terms as the HHS mandate (which I wrote about a couple years ago here). There are ways around such state-law mandates, however, most notably in some circumstances through self-insurance, and part of the impetus for the HHS mandate under the ACA was to require coverage in all employer-provided plans (other than the diminishing grandfathered few or those entitled to the religious exemption) as well as those in the 22 states without a state-law mandate.
Because RFRA does not apply to the states under Boerne, challenges to state law mandates have to rely directly on the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment (with little chance of success, of course), state constitutional free exercise clauses, or state RFRAs. Such challenges--including the challenge (cert petition here) I was part of as an associate at Williams & Connolly ten years ago to the California mandate--have been unsuccessful. (One issue from that petititon that I think has never been fully explored is whether the carving up of what is a sufficiently "religious" institution to qualify for for an exemption poses Larson v. Valente Establishment Clause problems, but that has garnered about as much interest from courts as the argument on the other side that Caldor v. Thornton from the same era implies a broad rule that accommodations raise Establishment Clause problems.) Thus, the point made in this LA Times story that not much will change for many employees post-Hobby Lobby and the likely push in some of the remaining 22 states to enact contraceptive mandates.
Perhaps there are some important doctrinal Justice Kennedy-syle federalism-as-protecting-liberty reasons for this post-Hobby Lobby state of affairs (Howard Wasserman raises similar issues here), as well as an example of Rick Hills's "Westphalian" strategy of substituting conflicts over jurisdiction for conflicts over deeply contested moral questions. Justice Kennedy wrote the decision for the Court in Boerne holding that RFRA was not a congruent and proportional remedy for any state (or local government) religious free exercise violations of § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment (a then much-criticized narrowing of Congress's § 5 power--times change). The federal government remains limited by RFRA in what it can impose on the nation by statute or regulation (see O Centro and Hobby Lobby). The states, however, can ratchet up or down levels of free exercise protection through interpretation of their state constitutional provisions, enacting state RFRAs, or crafting exemptions (or burdens, see Locke v. Davey), free from federal constitutional (see Smith, which Justice Kennedy joined) or statutory (see Boerne) demands.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
As Rick noted, last week was the 5th Annual Law and Religion Roundtable, hosted this year at Washington University in St. Louis. (I join the chorus of gratitude to John Inazu and his colleagues for their gracious hospitality.)
One of the worthy purposes of the gathering is to foster a community among law and religion scholars, including (especially) among those who disagree about fraught and divisive subjects (abortion, same-sex marriage, legislative prayer, RFRA, the role of the state, and the reasonableness of religious belief, to name a few offhand). Still, I do think--as Rick already indicated--that some fault lines are developing and coming into sharper focus among those working in the area, even if such gatherings still hold the promise of civil discourse and disagreement.
The meeting last week was amid the quiet before the storm of the decision in Hobby Lobby on Monday. As Paul Horwitz notes in his NY Times essay today, the consensus in favor of religious accommodations is collapsing. I don't think we should sidestep making the obvious point that this is on account of arguments about sex (Paul highlights the debate over same-sex marriage in particular). Consider the underlying issues in much of the prior history of religious exemptions and accommodations: military service (Seeger and Welsh), mandatory school attendance (Yoder), drug use (Smith and O Centro), and sabbath observance (Sherbert). With the possible exception of the first, none rose to the level of public debate that now surround abortion, the contraceptive mandate (even if there is little public debate about the morality of contraception as such), and same-sex marriage. It was easy to talk about religious freedom and pluralism when that meant Quaker exemptions from the draft or small religious communities using hallucinogenic substances. Now that the argument over religious exemptions has moved to much more contested issues, can a consensus that values pluralism hold? Does the Rawlsian liberal embrace of pluralism, freedom of conscience, and an overlapping consensus of reasonable views depend (philosophically or historically, as a contingent matter) on a range of acceptable views that those who, say, oppose abortion, the HHS mandate, or same-sex marriage are now outside?
Another pervasive argument in "law and religion" is what one makes of the "religion" part. The "religion is not special" view has been gathering force for several years, with arguments from Schwartzman, Leiter, and Eisgruber/Sager (among others). Another way to approach the religion is not special argument is to frame it as an internal/external distinction. For some of us, we think (I dare to say “reason”) about religion from an internal view, within a specific religious tradition and set of commitments (which does not entail, I hope, an inability to engage those from outside that tradition). And some are sympathetic to religious claims even if not adherents themselves, just as one can be sympathetic to claims for free speech by those with whom one disagrees. The alternative “external” view proceeds, by definition, outside of (unsympathetically toward) a tradition and regards religion as another commitment people happen to have (for the kind of people into that sort of thing), albeit one that is irrational, socially disruptive, and historically a source of bloodshed and oppression. As John Finnis puts it in this passage:
If religion is...just one among the deep passions and commitments that move people, it does not deserve constitutional mention on account of any special dignity or value, and if its mention in constitutions is defensible at all, the defense must be back-handed: religious people have been so beastly to each other that historical constitution-makers have not necessarily been unreasonable in treating the religious as specially vulnerable to discrimination. But the hypothesis – that religion is just one deep and passionate commitment amongst others – is, of course, lethal to religion. It is an absolutely external view, which treats religious propositions as if they were inherently incapable of conveying any understanding of or rational response to any feature of reality. They treat religion in the way that Ronald Dworkin regularly treats views of legislators or “majorities” with which he is unsympathetic, that is, not as propositions about rights, or common good, or as any other proposition or premise justifying a normative conclusion, but instead as mere expressions of distaste or disapproval, accompanied by an appeal to the power of those who hold these views – their power as a majority to give effect to their attitude, their passionate commitment. John Finnis, "Why Religious Liberty is a Special, Important and Limited Right" (2008).
Exploring “mere expressions of distaste or disapproval accompanied by an appeal to the power of those [such as justices on the Supreme Court] who hold these views” would be a jejune research agenda for any academic field to embrace. I hope future gatherings of law and religion scholars can continue to think anew about ways of contributing to the field (and shaping the legal culture and civil society) without avoiding difficult conversations about our differences.